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Top 10 Biggest Draft Busts of All Time

Over the years the NFL Draft has produced some busts as draft picks didn't live up to the hype going from college to the pros. Matt MacKay shares his top to biggest draft busts of all time.
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Top 10 Biggest Draft Busts of All Time

With the 2024 NFL Draft only a few hours away, it's a good time to reflect on some of the biggest busts in the history of the league. It's difficult for teams to know exactly how top prospects will translate at the highest level, which is why there are way more busts than success stories.

NFL handicapper and draft analyst Matt MacKay is back to share his top 10 biggest draft busts of all time and will offer his analysis for why each player wound up being a massive miss by teams' general managers, coaches, and scouts.

NFL DRAFT DATE, TIME, AND WHERE TO WATCH

  • When: April 25, 2024
  • Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, NFL Network

Biggest Draft Busts of All Time

10. Sam Bradford (QB - 2010, 1st Overall)

Sam Bradford made a ton of money during his eight years in the NFL. Drafted as the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft class, the signal-caller from Oklahoma never won more than seven games in a season. This outcome, combined with various injuries, resulted in Bradford bouncing around between St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Arizona to finish his career.

9. Joey Harrington (QB - 2002, 3rd Overall)

Joey Harrington was the third overall draft pick in the 2002 draft class following a highly productive career at the University of Oregon. Harrington completed less than 62 percent of his pass attempts in all six seasons as a starter in the NFL, never surpassing 20 touchdowns thrown in a single season. In 2003, he recorded 17 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for Detroit en route to a 5-11 record.

8. Trent Richardson (RB - 2012, 3rd Overall)

Selected third overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, running back Trent Richardson had a ton of hype following his career at the University of Alabama. Cleveland took a shot on Richardson early, and it initially looked like a success during his rookie campaign, winding up with 950 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns. However, Richardson fell off of a cliff in 2013 and 2014, totaling seven touchdowns and averaging under 3.5 YPC.

7. Vernon Gholston (DE - 2008, 6th Overall)

Coming out of Ohio State, Vernon Gholston's dominance was supposed to easily translate to the NFL. The big-armed edge rusher was selected sixth by the New York Jets in 2008 but he was out of the league after 2010, finishing with zero sacks and only three TFLs in five games as a starter.

6. Johnny Manziel (QB - 2014, 22nd Overall)

Johnny Manziel's highlight reel plays at Texas A&M generated a ton of hype leading up to Cleveland using their 22nd overall pick on him in 2014. Quickly, Manziel's off-the-field antics and issues wound up a bigger distraction than anticipated. The signal-caller finished his two years in the league with a 57 percent completion rate, along with seven passing touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games as starter for the Browns.

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5. Troy Williamson (WR - 2005, 7th Overall)

Minnesota used its seventh overall draft pick on wideout Troy Williamson in 2006, hoping to bolster its wide receiving corps. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Williamson never produced much, finishing with a career-high 37 receptions for 455 yards in 2006, despite winding up with zero touchdowns that year.

4. Matt Leinart (QB - 2006, 10th Overall)

After a highly successful career at USC alongside Reggie Bush, quarterback Matt Leinart was taken 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. Leinart went 8-10 in his career that spanned six seasons with three different teams, finishing with a 57 percent completion rate and 15 touchdowns compared to 21 interceptions.

3. Mitch Trubisky (QB - 2017, 2nd Overall)

More recently, Chicago's infamous decision to draft Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft class is one of the most scrutinized selections due to Patrick Mahomes' availability up until being drafted 10th by Kansas City. Trubisky is currently a back-up in Buffalo, but he did manage to lead the Bears to an 11-3 record as a starter in 2018, including a berth in an NFC Wild Card game. The signal-caller's accuracy never progressed though, which is why he's been either QB2 or QB3 since leaving Chicago in 2021.

2. Josh Rosen (QB - 2018, 10th Overall)

Josh Rosen was another whiff by Arizona in 2018. The Cardinals selected Rosen following his tenure at UCLA, but he quickly proved to be a liability under center in the NFL. Rosen finished his rookie campaign with a 3-10 record, including a 55.3 percent completion rate, throwing 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He finished his three-year stint in the NFL with Miami and Atlanta, where he started a total of three games, winding up 0-3 with one touchdown and seven interceptions.

1. Jamarcus Russell (QB - 2007, 1st Overall)

The most infamous NFL Draft prospect bust of all time remains JaMarcus Russell. Russell had one of the strongest arms in college football during his time playing at LSU, attracting the Oakland Raiders to use their first overall draft pick on him in the 2007 draft. Russell played only three years in the NFL, all for the Raiders, finishing 7-18 as a starter with a 52.1 percent completion rate. He totaled 18 passing touchdowns and 23 interceptions, never finishing with a QBR higher than 29.2.

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Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.

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